Train your brain to sleep better

Sleep is essential for good mental health, although not everyone is able to fall asleep or stay asleep. In this blog we’ll explore the reasons behind sleeplessness, how quality sleep brings quality of life and tips on dealing with insomnia. 

What causes sleeplessness?

Stress is a leading cause of abnormal sleep patterns. Research shows it is a common trigger for both short-term and chronic insomnia. Stress can result from concerns about work, school, health, finances, anxiety and depression among other things, but perhaps the most deceptive cause is the fast-paced media packed world in which we live. Technology, world events and our ever-increasing knowledge about our world and the universe seem to have put time on a relentless treadmill and keeping up can wear out even the most determined among us. According to scientific research, stress creates incoherence in our heart rhythms, and when the heart is out of sync normal sleep patterns can be interrupted. 

Poor sleep habits can cause difficulties sleeping, this includes going to sleep at irregular times, taking naps during the day, having stimulating activities before bed such as exercise, having an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV.  The use of your smartphone, computer or other screens just before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle as the usual blue light stimulates your brain to be awake.

Eating late in the evening can too be a factor in sleeplessness, especially food that is high in carbohydrates and sugar. This may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the oesophagus after eating, which may keep you awake.

Traveling or a late work schedule is also a culprit. Your circadian rhythm acts as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting your body's circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia. Causes include jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones, working a late or early shift, or frequently changing shifts.

Why quality sleep is vital for your body?

When you sleep your brain works hard releasing hormones and processing information from your day. This is important for creating long term memories, as your brain combines all the information it has picked up during the day and files it away for later use. While you’re sleeping, your pituitary gland releases human growth hormone (HGH), which helps the body to grow and repair itself.

The body’s immune system releases small proteins called cytokines while sleeping. These cytokines help the body fight inflammation, infection and trauma. Without enough sleep, your immune system might not be able to function at its best.

Sleep allows your sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight or flight response, to take a much needed break. Studies have shown that when we’re deprived of sleep, sympathetic nervous system activity increases, which is also mirrored by an increase in blood pressure. Levels of cortisol, often called the stress hormone, decreases during the first few hours of sleep before rising to peak soon after you wake up. 

train your brain to sleep better

Tips on bettering your sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important in maintaining quality physical and mental health. There are several things that you can do to promote good sleep and ultimately get a better rest.

First things first it’s important to maintain a regular sleep routine. Do this by going to bed and waking up at a regular schedule. Ideally, aim to not stray from your sleep routine by more than 20 minutes every night of the week.

Avoid napping during the day. Instead, perhaps pop your earphones in and listen to some guided meditation. There are many different types of meditation, but they all come down to one basic tenet – relaxing the mind and trying to focus on the breath. Meditation is a way to exercise the unconscious mind, practice mindfulness and lessen anxieties. Although it’s not as traditionally restful as a nap, a session of meditation is another valid way to refresh and revive – and a meditation habit has multiple benefits to both mood and productivity. 

When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulty initiating sleep, and may lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation.

If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning. Instead, get out of bed and sit somewhere in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, and then return to bed. Avoid looking at your phone or turning on the TV during this period as it will just stimulate you more than desired.

Try to read, watch TV or surf the internet outside of your comfy bed. This is because your brain might associate the bed with wakefulness. It’s best to reserve the bed for sleep only.

Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, black and green tea, energy drinks and cola. The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only during the first part of the day, however it would be better to look into alternatives such as chicory root ‘coffee’, carob and ginseng.

Get your body moving! Exercise before 2 pm every day. Even stretches or a walk is great for your body’s overall health and can promote continuous sleep. Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.

It’s great if you prepare your bedroom for sleeping. A lower temperature can promote better sleep. So open a window or lower the thermostat some time before going to sleep. Having blinds to keep any light out is also great in activating our natural sleep cycle.

train your brain to sleep better

For some, the use of CBD oil has shown to be very beneficial. Recent research published in 2019 looked at whether CBD could improve sleep and/or reduce anxiety. The study involved 72 subjects, with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 experiencing poor sleep. The subjects were each given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form each day. In the first month, 79.2 % of the patients reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 % reported better sleep. 

Sleep is important and you know that too well. Help yourself by trying out as many of these suggestions as you can and implementing them into your routine. It will better your sleep, overall health and well-being.

Mr Pain and His sister Anxiety

“One way to break up any kind of tension is good deep breathing.”

Byron Nelson

If Pain had a gender it would definitely be masculine. Just because…

 And why not? All of us have felt Him, this stingy, cracking life’s side-effect that just has enough Ego to be a part of your existence, whether it be after an intense workout, a performance, or even an exam.

He comes uninvited,

He comes and goes. Whenever He wishes!

Seems no one can stop Him…

Except!... You know one His weakness…

His weakness is simple, the one He’d be nothing without, -

Her name is Anxiety.  

Whatever that means…

But do be aware – She’s all for what Pain exists.

Here’s a little rhyme that came too naturally not to share. With this, a huge article joined along, all in honour of Him - the Mr. Pain. And of course, His sister...

Life is tense! That’s why Buddhists and Tibetan monks have their practices to end the suffering and get rid of all illusions in our world, including Pain.  

Unless you are a Tibetan monk, physical Pain, while in company of his great “sister” Anxiety must have visited you at least once before a big test, performance, or a public speaking.

However, some people experience it more than others. Based on global statistics it is estimated that 264 million adults around the globe experience Anxiety in their life. It is thought to be a psychological disorder, but it involves many systems of the body. Anxiety is a true chameleon and is called a “somatic” condition: meaning it is typically brought on and made worse not by any external source (for example a virus), but by our internal psychological and physiological functioning.

One way or another, along with Her almost always comes Mr. Pain. Therefore conversations about chronic painful problems routinely turn into conversations about Anxiety and it often ends up at the chicken-and-egg question: does Anxiety cause the Pain, or is the Pain causing the Anxiety?

Hint: it’s both.

Chronic Pain is extremely common and can be both a cause and consequence of Anxiety — sometimes equally, sometimes slanted much more one way than the other, but each always influencing the other to some degree. For many people with both Anxiety and Pain, solving the Pain is the best possible treatment for the Anxiety. Others must solve both at once. And a few will find that Pain is just one of many ways meaning that they are haunted by Anxiety demons.

How works the Anxiety = Pain Phenomenon?

The Anxiety causes our natural stress response to be constantly activated, and that our muscles contract as part of our stress response. When we experience Anxiety, our neuromuscular system never gets a chance to recover or return to normal. Our heart rate remains elevated and our muscles retain a higher than normal level of tension.  

So when our muscles are constantly contracted, our cells are forced to create energy for our muscles through the process of anaerobic metabolism. In this process, glucose is synthesized into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) without the help of oxygen, and lactic acid is produced as waste.

Lactic acid is often blamed for muscle soreness, but our body quickly breaks down lactic acid into lactate and hydrogen ions. A build-up of hydrogen ions, which activate our pain receptors, is likely the cause of the dull ache and burning sensation we feel in our muscles during strenuous exercise.

And a build - up of lactate is linked to Anxiety. Not surprisingly, studies show that people with Anxiety have higher levels of muscle tension, react to stress with stronger muscle contractions, and return to their normal level of tension slower.

Both Anxiety and chronic muscle tension are conditions of the nervous system in which our reactions have become habituated to the level that they are not under our conscious, voluntary control—that’s why they feel so uncontrollable and unchangeable. Unbalanced levels of hormones and neurotransmitters make Anxiety all - the - more challenging to overcome.

 Conscious intervention, retraining of the nervous system, and commitment to healthy lifestyle habits are all necessary to truly eliminate both anxiety and muscle tension.

Here we share some effective ways to eliminate the phenomena:

TRY MASSAGE THERAPY

Massage therapy is one of the best-known alternative remedies for relieving muscle tension. It addresses the muscle tissue directly and can assist the muscle in releasing its contraction, thus easing the tension. Massage might be useful in the treatment of stiff and sore muscles. There are many types of massage to choose from:

 Swedish massage is a gentle touch massage that is good for lighter forms of tension, while deep-tissue massage is effective in addressing deeper muscle tension. Either of these forms will be helpful and a great way to relieve muscle tension, tension headaches, and neck stiffness.

PRACTICE YOGA

Yoga is perhaps the oldest form of alternative muscle tension management. Some people claim the practice of yoga to be over 5,000 years old! Yoga uses techniques to lengthen, stretch and relax your muscles while simultaneously working with your breath. Yoga addresses both the physical side of muscle tension and the stress aspect as well.

TAKE HOT BATHS!

Hot water allows muscle fibers to loosen and relax, in turn relieving muscle tension. Hot baths can also be soothing to your nervous system. Healing substances can be added to the bath, such as essential oils and sea salts. Essential oils can also be added to a warm bath to assist in relaxation and release of muscle tension. But remember, - don’t stay in a warm bath too long. Be aware of the dizziness, which sometimes appear after being in a hot water for longer time.

TRY BALMS/GELS/HERBAL MEDICINE:

Try all sorts of remedies that could be applied to your body. This includes

The last, but not least of the remedies mentioned above is “balms that include CBD’’. That something worth another article or even a book, but we’ll try to make it as clear and short as possible.  

First, painkillers are not the best option to treat Pain and muscle spasms. They function via the central nervous system (CNS) by “deceiving” the mind into thinking there is no pain, while in - reality, there is. CBD really works a bit differently.

But in order to CBD to work as a muscle relaxant, cannabinoid receptors must be present at the site of muscular synapses. This is where the endocannabinoid system comes in:

If you haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), you need to inform yourself now. In short, it is an innate network of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that occur 100% naturally in the human body. Everyone has the receptors, whether you are someone who has no idea about it, or you are herbal medicine PhD student. Another thing is also clear:

Cannabis does function well as both a neurological “painkiller” and a neuromuscular blocking agent. Not to mention, it does not have side effects as painkillers usually do; nevertheless, it isn’t addictive in any way (while this is also one of the features of some effective painkillers).

Alleviating muscle spasms at the molecular level is one of the many great uses of CBD. Thousands of people have switched over to it from prescription medications due to its high costs and dangerous side effects later.

One of the great products that we have in our stock, which you could always try in order to feel physically better and lower any discomfort and tension, e.g. muscle spasms, is CBD Cooling Gel:

Exclusive extracts come together and provide relief to overworked muscles and joints. All ingredients create a cooling synthesis to help relieve muscle soreness. The symbiosis of menthol, eucalyptus and glycerine (accompanied by the full spectrum of CBD) creates a treatment for your muscles and joints, to relief soreness and calm the body

*If interested (or you know who might be), please, check it out on our website, in the product section.

Depending on the type and severity of the muscle tension, trying each of these strategies could prove helpful in relieving muscle tension. Even though the tension is caused by Anxiety, which is a mental effect, the physical body is affected, including muscles. And while there are various approaches to soothing some of that muscle tension, it is also important to address the underlying cause, and learn to manage it.

We hope this article was helpful for you, so next time we can all unite and with ease conquer and control the one and only, Mr. Pain.

And His sister Anxiety.

If You have any question, contact us!